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New System for Tracking Dentures at Nursing Homes

A new system of tracking dentures in people living in nursing homes will be available soon, dental prosthetic provider Nobilium announced recently. Using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology from Syrma technology, the system was designed to help nursing homes meet certain regulatory standards as well as locate missing dentures.

Difficulties in Identifying Dentures

Providing dentures to nursing home patients has traditionally been problematic since they could get lost or returned to the wrong person. Sometimes staff members find them in places like bedding and lunch trays. The problem in fact has become so commonplace that numerous states have enacted laws mandating denture identification in nursing homes and hospitals.

Denture ID Laws Can Be Challenging

Due to privacy concerns, adhering to these laws can be challenging. Patients are often reluctant to let their dentures be labeled given the embarrassment they would feel once others learned they wore false teeth. Furthermore, manufacturing labs have to spend extra time engraving patients' names in their dentures, which can cost extra. The dentists who handle these dentures must decide whether to pay the cost themselves or bill their patients the added expense.

Technology Consists of a Microchip

The FDA-approved technology consists of a tag, or microchip, implanted in back of the denture's gum area. The chip is adaptable to one of two types of high frequencies, which can be accessed with a smartphone's near-field communication (NFC) chip or a Syrma RFID reader linked to a USB port in a computer. As soon as Nobilium finishes internal testing of the product, it should be available commercially.

Lost Dentures Are a Major Problem

"Dentures are lost on a regular basis, and this is a big problem in nursing homes and hospitals," Devon Howe, Nobilium's president and CEO, said. Howe saw RFID chips used to track pets, so he conferred with Paul Dahl, Syrma Technology's director of RFID business, to see how the two could solve the problem. Howe believed that the same chips used to monitor pets could be used to communicate with dentures using a reader -- a device that exchanges information with RFID chips -- before moving the data into the cloud.

Tags to Monitor Pets Gave Rise to Idea 

So Syrma came up with a tag that would connect with the chip in the dentures. The tag includes biocompatible materials meant to accommodate tiny tags and inlays that measure .08 to .1 inch in diameter in order to adapt themselves to the target chip. The RFID tags embedded in Syrma's inlay contain chips with NXP semiconductors that can be tapped into by readers provided by Texas Instruments.

Scanning a Denture's Tag 

Usually the tags, which contain both the patient's and dentist's names, will be used only if the dentures are replaced. If a worker processing dentures finds a set whose ownership is in question, they only have to scan the tag to get the owner's identity. The reader would immediately detect the owner's ID in the cloud. In addition, a lost set of dentures could just as easily be found by scanning a person's possessions like bed sheets and lunch trays -- places where patients often lose their dentures.

More on Scanning

A Syrma reader hooked to a laptop, notebook or PC could be used to scan the high frequency version of an RFID tag, which then relays the information to Syrma software in the Nobilium server. With the NFC version, a smartphone can be used, extracting the data through a Syrma app and then sending it straight to the server. In addition to the patient's ID, the material used to make the dentures can be registered to facilitate chances of performing on them any necessary repairs. Howe said that "we are the first company to do this," and added that he'd like this new system to pave the way for an industry-wide adoption of RFID technology, making it a given in dental care.

For more information on RFID asset tracking technology used to track missing dentures, please contact us.

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